Surbiton 2 Buckingham 1
By Zak Jones
Buckingham Suffer Narrow Loss To League Leaders
Saturday’s fixture that pitted second placed Buckingham against serial champions and table toppers Surbiton, was a high quality affair. The game began at a ferocious pace, with the home side having the better of the opening exchanges and Ella Jackson making a superb diving from Great Britain international Giselle Ansley’s flick in the sixth minute. However, Buckingham gradually grew into the game and it was the visitors who created the next clear opportunity for Maddy Newlyn after eleven minutes. Unfortunately, she couldn't quite get her shot away. However, little more than a minute later Buckingham were in the lead. A fantastic length of the pitch pass from captain Zoe Shipperley, found the in form Phoebe Richards. She, in turn, did superbly to round her marker and deliver a pinpoint pass to Lottie Porter, diving in at the far post to score. The home side responded immediately and missed a good chance of their own just a couple of minutes later but it was Buckingham who were in the ascendancy and playing well during this period of the match. Newlyn was again denied when she broke through on twenty minutes and the home goalkeeper made an important double save off Millie Holme and Porter shortly afterwards, to keep the score at 1-0. However, a ball handling error in defence and some soft defending with nine minutes to go to the break, gifted the home side their third penalty corner of the half. This time they made no mistake, executing a well rehearsed routine to make score 1-1. Richards remained a constant threat and she had a decent back hand shot saved after a mazy run, in the closing minutes but the scores remained level at the break.
Buckingham started the second half well and created the first real opening of the half. Richards denied once more on forty three minutes after a smart shot on the turn. However, it was the home side who took the lead after forty eight minutes with a goal out of nothing. Some fine individual skill, a bit of luck with the bounce of the ball and an unbelievable finish into the top corner, saw Surbiton take a 2-1 lead. The remainder of the half was very even and hotly contested with few real chances for either side. Richards came close to an equaliser with eight minutes remaining and Buckingham earned their only penalty corner of the game shortly afterwards but were unable to execute their routine. Whilst the home sides only other opportunities came from two additional penalty corners, that were well defended. Buckingham fought until the end but ultimately could not find an equaliser. The result sees Buckingham drop back down to fourth in the table. Despite this, they remain only two points behind the second and third placed teams.
Despite the disappointment of the result, I was really pleased with the performance. We are still improving and becoming more of a cohesive unit with every match. There was evidence of some really good progress with some of our new defensive structures and I was also really pleased with how our connections and link play are starting to come together on attack. As expected, it was a game of fine margins. The stats were incredibly close in terms of attacking opportunities We had more shots whilst they created more penalty corner opportunities and ultimately it was a moment of individual brilliance that decided the outcome. As a squad we were pretty frustrated afterward, as we felt we probably deserved something from the game. All credit to them, they showed why they are perennial champions by being clinical with their opportunities when they came. However, the girls should take a great deal of confidence from the performance, as we went toe to toe with a top side, packed full of current and past internationals.
Although Saturday was a huge game, in reality, losing to the top team in the country will not be the deciding factor on whether we make the top four playoffs or not. Our final league position will be decided by our performances against all the other sides. We now have three massive games prior to the Christmas break and I know we will really be up for the different challenges those games will present.